Diwali, also known as the "festival of lights", is being celebrated across the world by Sikhs, Hindus and Jains.

Lamps are lit to symbolise the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness, fireworks are let off, and families share sweets as part of the celebrations.

diwali

Lights are lit to symbolise the triumph of good over evil


Lasting over several days, the festival has a special significance for each of these religions and celebrated in different ways.

For Hindus it is one of the most significant festivals of the year, signalling the start of the new year and is a chance to offer thanks to the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi.

diwali

Fireworks are let off over Diwali


Considered a lucky time of the year to buy gold, prices for the precious metal are pushed higher around this time as large number of people make use of the auspicious festival.

Small earthenware lamps are lit to, windows and doors flung open and houses are cleaned to make Lakshmi feel welcome in their homes.

diwali

The Golden Temple in Amritsar


Sikhs celebrate the release of the sixth Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time in 1619. The Golden Temple (Harmandir Sahib) in Amritsar is lit with thousands of lights during Diwali as Sikhs pay tribute.

The festival of lights has special significance for Jains as it believed to be the day in 527 BCE that Indian sage Mahavira gave his last teachings thus achieving ultimate liberation. Some strict Jains even fast in tribute to the holy man.

Thousands of people are expected to gather in Leicester city centre later on Tuesday in one of the largest celebrations of Diwali outside India.

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  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • A firecracker lights up the sky as candles and lamps are seen lit across a field ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Diwali performance in Dublin

    Standalone: Dancers waiting for their cue to perform during a show highlighting Indian Culture at the RDS Dublin during Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights.

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Diwali performance in Dublin

    Standalone: Dancers perform during a show highlighting Indian Culture at the RDS Dublin during Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights.

  • Diwali performance in Dublin

    Standalone: Thara Rose Wilson dressed in Kathakali costume has final adjustments made to her before performing during a show highlighting Indian Culture at the RDS Dublin during Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights.

  • Diwali performance in Dublin

    Standalone: Thara Rose Wilson dressed in Kathakali costume stands off-stage with other dancers waiting for their cue to perform during a show highlighting Indian Culture at the RDS Dublin during Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights.

  • Diwali performance in Dublin

    Standalone: Thara Rose Wilson dressed in Kathakali costume stands off-stage with other dancers waiting for their cue to perform during a show highlighting Indian Culture at the RDS Dublin during Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights.

  • Diwali Festival of Light 2012

    Dancer Aprana Shukla takes part in Dublin city's 2012 Diwali Festival of Lights Celebration at City Hall tonight.

  • Chaos ensues at a crossing near a busy wholesale market as purchased goods are transported out and fresh stock is brought in ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali, in New Delhi, India, Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. The Hindu festival of lights, marked by lighting lamps and offering prayers to the goddess of wealth Lakshmi, will be celebrated on Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das)

  • An Indian girl tries to reach a lantern displayed for sale at roadside stalls ahead of Hindu festival of lights Diwali, in Mumbai, India, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012. People decorate their homes during this festival. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

  • In this Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 photo, an Indian girl lights an earthen lamp ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, in Ahmadabad, India. Diwali, or Deepavali, the annual Hindu Festival of Light, will be celebrated on Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

  • An Indian man dressed as a monkey god Hanuman participates in a religious procession ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. Diwali, or Deepavali, the annual Hindu Festival of Light, will be celebrated on Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • An Indian man dressed as a monkey god Hanuman participates in a religious procession ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of light, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. Diwali, or Deepavali, the annual Hindu Festival of Light, will be celebrated on Nov. 13. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Candles and lamps are lit across a field ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • Indians light candles ahead of Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in Allahabad, India, Monday, Nov. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDUISM-DHANTERAS

    An Indian entrepreneur and her daughter participate in a ritual as she observes 'Dhanteras', the first day of the five-day Diwali Festival as celebrated in parts of north India, in Ahmedabad on November 11, 2012. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. AFP PHOTO / Sam PANTHAKY (Photo credit should read SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-DIWALI

    Indian flower sellers display garlands of marigolds to customers at a roadside stall ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Siliguri on November 12, 2012. During the Hindu festival of light, Diwali, people decorate their homes with flowers and light oil lamps in celebration of the festival which marks the homecoming of the god Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon King Ravana. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDU-DIWALI

    Indian school girls lighting candles as they sit near a 'Rangoli', which is made out of coloured powder during pre Diwali celebration at a school in Amritsar November 12, 2012. The Hindu Diwali festival, festival of lights, falls on November 13 marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees light candles as they pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Vendors sell fruits at a local market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November 12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Vendors sell fruits at a local market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November 12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Nepalese flower vendors wait for customers at a local market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Vendors sell fruits and flowers at a local market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Nepalese flower vendors sell flowers at a local market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-DIWALI

    Shoppers choose electric lights ahead of Diwali in Siliguri on November 11, 2012. Electric lights and traditional lamps are in heavy demand for the forthcoming Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, which falls on November 13 this year marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-ECONOMY-FESTIVAL-RELIGION

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY: India-economy-festival-religion-Hindu-retail-auto,FOCUS by Salil Panchal Sales staff are seen inside a decked up car showroom ahead of Diwali, the Indian festival of Lights, in Mumbai on November 10, 2012. Indian retailers hope to boost disappointing consumer spending with a frenzy of special offers in this week's Diwali festival, led by automakers crowding the market with nearly 20 new cars. Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, has always been an auspicious time to splurge, sparking an annual race between retailers to provide the most attractive offers. But in this year's flagging economy, the stakes are especially high. AFP PHOTO / INDRANIL MUKHERJEE (Photo credit should read INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-HINDU-FESTIVAL-DIWALI

    Indian volunteers of a social organisation release sky lanterns to promote a peaceful and eco-friendly Diwali, and create awareness against child labour in the fire cracker industry during a function in Kolkata on November 9, 2012. The Diwali the Festival of Lights will take place on 13 November, marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-DIWALI

    An Indian vendor waits for customers as he sells electric lights ahead of Diwali in Siliguri on November 11, 2012. Electric lights and traditional lamps are in heavy demand for the forthcoming Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, which falls on November 13 this year marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-DIWALI

    Indian flower sellers display garlands of marigolds to customers at a roadside stall ahead of the Hindu festival of Diwali in Siliguri on November 12, 2012. During the Hindu festival of light, Diwali, people decorate their homes with flowers and light oil lamps in celebration of the festival which marks the homecoming of the god Lord Ram after vanquishing the demon King Ravana. AFP PHOTO/Diptendu DUTTA (Photo credit should read DIPTENDU DUTTA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-HINDU-DIWALI

    Indian school girls lighting candles as they sit near a 'Rangoli', which is made out of coloured powder during pre Diwali celebration at a school in Amritsar November 12, 2012. The Hindu Diwali festival, festival of lights, falls on November 13 marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-RELIGION-SIKH-DIWALI

    Indian Sikh devotees pay their respects at the illuminated Sikhism's holiest shrine Golden Temple in Amritsar on November 12, 2012, on the eve of Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali. Sikhs celebrate Bandi Chhor Divas or Diwali to mark the return of the Sixth Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji, who was freed from imprisonment and also managed to release 52 political prisoners at the same time from Gwalior fort by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in 1619. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit should read NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-HINDU-FESTIVAL-DIWALI

    Indian volunteers of a social organisation release a sky lantern to promote a peaceful and eco-friendly Diwali, and create awareness against child labour in the fire cracker industry during a function in Kolkata on November 9, 2012. The Diwali the Festival of Lights will take place on 13 November, marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-HINDU-FESTIVAL-DIWALI

    Indian volunteers of a social organisation release sky lanterns to promote a peaceful and eco-friendly Diwali, and create awareness against child labour in the fire cracker industry during a function in Kolkata on November 9, 2012. The Diwali the Festival of Lights will take place on 13 November, marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Nepalese vendor sells color powders at a market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • NEPAL-RELIGION-FESTIVAL-TIHAR

    Nepalese vendor sells pictures of Laxmi, the Hindu goddess of Wealth, at a market in Kathmandu on November 12, 2012 ahead of the Nepalese festival of Tihar. Tihar, known as the festival of lights, is a five-day festival which began from today November12 with the worshipping of various forms of animals. The festival is also celebrated in honour of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. AFP PHOTO/Prakash MATHEMA (Photo credit should read PRAKASH MATHEMA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • INDIA-HINDU-FESTIVAL-DIWALI

    Indian volunteers of a social organisation release a sky lantern to promote a peaceful and eco-friendly Diwali, and create awareness against child labour in the fire cracker industry during a function in Kolkata on November 9, 2012. The Diwali the Festival of Lights will take place on 13 November, marking the victory over evil and commemorating the time when the Hindu god Lord Rama achieved victory over Ravana and returned to his kingdom Ayodhya. AFP PHOTO/ Dibyangshu SARKAR (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)